Hey guys. My original intention was to put this project out without any kind of explanation. I figured I’d let it stand on its own merits and live with the consequences. You don't have to read this if you don't want as I think it's a little lengthy and a bit pretentious in places. But the Von Rohrbach project is such a strange departure from my previous work that I feel some words of explanation are in order for context.
“Simplicity” is the first word of explanation I want to touch on. For many years now I’ve been thinking that I’m part of a generation of players who are often guilty of writing music that is a hell of a lot more fun to play than it is to actually listen to. And I think we sometimes labor under the idea that if a musical idea is difficult to play it must automatically be good. Therefore complex/bizarre musical ideas provide validation as players and further validation as human beings.
But really, there's more to it than that. Sometimes, it's the simple ideas that are often the most difficult to convey in a way that avoids cliché and speaks clearly to the listener. And that’s what I wanted to explore with this batch of tunes. That’s not say that I don’t love technical playing. I do. I’m as guilty of it as the next guy. I just tried like hell to avoid it with this project and speak/write more succinctly.
So in trying to get out of my comfort zone for this project I isolated three more key ideas I think I should touch on: Time, Tone, and Tuning.
Time – Currently in Hard Rock music polyrhythms and odd-time signatures all are the rage as a direct result of the popularity of the Prog and Djent idioms. So for starters I figured I better just ignore that completely. So everything on this project is in 4/4 time with very simple and direct driving grooves. I love Meshuggah. However I am not Meshuggah. Not by a long shot.
Tone – I find that in the brand of music for which I was previously associated, there are two (and only two) guitar tones allowed. The first is a very pretty Roland JC-120 clean tone and the second is a massive, over-the-top crunch tone for rhythm and lead. The problem, of course, is that there is a whole universe of tone in between those two patches. That’s something else I wanted to explore. As such, there are no purely clean or wildly over-driven guitar tones on the recording. Everything fell somewhere in between. That I was at the mercy of some very cheap/shoddy recording software and had very few tonal options dovetailed nicely with this aesthetic principle.
Tuning – Drop D, Drop C, Drop B, 7-string, 8-string, 9-string...I was having NONE of it! This whole project was recorded entirely on six-string guitars in standard tuning (A=400Hz). You know some of the most massive riffs in the world consist of simple ideas played in standard tuning. I was thinking along the lines of Sabbath, Faith No More, Opeth, early Metallica, etc. And again that was also a goal: to speak simply and clearly. It’s been a fun experiment.
Speaking of experiments, the end of each song features a mini "re-mix". This is a little technical but here was my thought process: "1) Any musical idea can be expressed in standard musical notation. 2) Standard notation can also be easily turned in midi information. 3) This means any riff I play on guitar can now easily be turned into a synth line that is ripe for mad-scientist style experimentation. 4) Although I'm twenty years behind the curve on this stuff. Let's see what kind of noise I can make".
The last word I want to touch upon is “commerce”. There is no Kickstarter of GoFundMe associated with this project. That’s mainly because I just don’t feel like passing the cost of my vanity projects off onto my friends and family. I love and respect them a little too much for that. However, I would also love to compensate the guest singers that worked so hard on this project with something other than free labor. It’s only a buck a track but if you want to throw in any extra we’d certainly appreciate it. It’s cool if not though. I hope you dig the tunes and can turn a few of your friends on to them as well. Thanks for reading and please help spread the word.
released June 1, 2016
Special thanks to the guest vocalists: John Lancaster, Terry Smith, Michael Cromer, and Jonathon Hicks. Extra special thanks to Mark Benincosa, Jeff Rinehart, Rob Rinehart, Jackie Brown and Kelley Skinner, without whom this project would not have been possible.
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